Published:Oct 30, 2023

Digital democracy|Digital divide

Shortcomings in countries with best digital quality of life

Surfshark’s Digital Quality of Life Index evaluates digital wellbeing across the globe based on five core pillars — internet quality, internet affordability, e-government, e-infrastructure, and e-security — which are made up of 14 indicators. This year, European countries dominate the top of the list, with 9 of the top 10 countries in the Index being from Europe. However, there was not a single country that excelled in all 14 indicators. In this chart of the week, Surfshark examines the top 10 countries in the DQL Index and uncovers their key weaknesses in digital wellbeing.

Key insights

  • Four countries lag behind in fixed broadband internet speed improvement. And although internet speeds in these countries are already reasonably high, there is still room for improvement. For instance, 20 out of 121 analyzed countries in the DQL Index have fixed internet that exceeds 200 Mbps. Meanwhile, Austria, Germany, Estonia, and Finland — countries lagging behind in fixed internet speed improvement — have speeds ranging from 100 to 170 Mbps.
  • Two countries lag behind in mobile internet speed improvement. Luxembourg’s and Switzerland’s internet speed growth was 0.6 and 0.1 Mbps/month. Meanwhile, the UAE — a country that already has extremely fast internet (310 Mbps for mobile internet, compared to 128 Mbps in Luxembourg and 150 Mbps in Switzerland) — has been improving its speed at an average of 8.5 Mbps/month, which is most likely due to 5G implementation¹.
  • In France — the number 1 country globally in digital wellbeing — the biggest weakness is internet penetration. At the moment, 92% of the French population uses the internet. But in some countries, this number is much higher — e.g., in Norway, 98% of the population uses the internet, while in Cyprus, this number is as high as 100%.
  • Denmark’s biggest weakness in digital quality of life is internet affordability — Danish people work an hour per month to afford the cheapest mobile internet price. Meanwhile, in the highest-ranking country in mobile affordability — Luxembourg — people work slightly over 15 min. If internet prices were to drop in Denmark and affordability were to increase, the country could improve its overall DQL ranking.
  • Spain struggles with mobile internet speed (80 Mbps), which is almost four times slower than in the country with the fastest mobile internet — the UAE (310 Mbps). Lastly, Singapore, despite its high overall ranking in the DQL index, has a very low data protection level, as most autocratic countries do².

Methodology and sources

Drawing on data from Surfshark’s Digital Quality of Life Index 2023, we highlighted the areas where the highest-ranking countries have room for improvement by selecting the indicators for which each country ranked the lowest.

For the complete research material behind this study, visit here.

Data was collected from:

Surfshark (2023). Digital quality of life index.


¹ Ookla (2023) U.A.E. – World’s Fastest 5G Market Driving Consumer Experience Gains;² Surfshark (2023) Data protection levels in democracies and autocracies.
The team behind this research:About us